Words John DiBartolomeo
Hopefully this will be a once a week affair with just my own thoughts into the what I see in our sport. We’ll just have to see how things go, but in any event… First of all, the opinions stated here are merely my two-cents; and maybe worth even less; but nonetheless. Bear with me too in that sometimes I’m typing faster than I’m thinking.
Coming back from the Sparco Fall Fling presented by Optima Batteries in Bristol, it’s encouraging to see the enthusiasm by those in attendance. Then there’s the matter of the announcement of the Fall Fling 500K for next year where one winner will walk away with a half-million dollars… It’s going to be interesting to see how quickly the field fills up when pre-entry opens on March 5 of next year. Capped at 385 entries, regardless of how many show up, the entire purse is guaranteed. Pre-entries can also take advantage of the payment plan so that one doesn’t have to fork over the whole $1,850 entry fee in one shot. That’s pretty important and I can only think it’ll help entrants.
Yeah, I know, there’s the two Million Dollar races that take place but both of them, the winner’s prize is tied to entries and at a $2K entry fee, it sort of limits those who take part. In the end, both of those events over the years have only paid out $200-300,000 roughly to the winner each time. This one is a guarantee of $500,000 to the winner. There’s also the SFG 500 race to take place next June in Michigan.
The only problem I see with any of these races is it takes quite a bit of entry money to take part not to mention the vacation time some people will eat up from their jobs. Right now, it’s a racer’s market when it comes to choosing a race, but how will this affect local bracket races? Here on the east coast, we’re already seeing that happen. Guys might choose to skip racing locally and just run the big events which won’t help local track operators. Another thing we’ll just have to wait and see.
There was a report on Autoweek,com noting Pro Stock’s Tanner Gray abandoning Pro Stock for a ride in NASCAR. Supposedly Gaydosh, Skillman and maybe a couple more either dropping out or cutting back from the class. My thoughts are when NHRA announced the rule changes to the class two years ago, they didn’t address the real problem and that was expense. If anything, they just forced teams to spend more money. I know it’s hard to control spending by any one team, but something needs to be done.
The talk in that class has centered on Mountain Motor Pro Stocks but I’m not sure how they could ever find any parity amongst the MMPS and the 500-cubic inch cars. They’d have to slow down the MMPS cars and speed up the 500-inch guys which will surely cost either group; maybe both; more money.
Obviously I was pretty busy at the Bristol event so I didn’t get a chance to watch any action from the St. Louis NHRA race but what may be interesting is the dominance the Torrence team has so far in Top Fuel. It’s probably gonna be pretty hard to beat them for the championship. And what if Tanner Gray wins the championship and then drops out of the class? Anybody have any idea as to the crowd attendance?